Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – South Africa

By: Lizel Salter

Kirstenbosch lies about 13 km from the centre of Cape Town and only grows native South African plant species. What grows here is limited though, due to the damp winters with around 1 500 mm of rainfall, of which all of this occur in about 140 days in the year, during the winter months.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was founded in 1913 by the botanist Henry Pearson, and is world-renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape Flora. It stretches along the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and the estate covers 528 hectares, representing more than 20 000 different native South African plant species. What makes it so special and world known, is that only indigenous plants are cultivated here. Kirstenbosch was the first botanical garden in the world with this ethos.

The gardens include a large indoor greenhouse where many plants from different regions are represented while outdoors, the focus moves to plants that are native to the Cape region, like the magnificent Protea species which is in full bloom between May and October.

One of the great features of the gardens is the hedge of wild almond trees that was planted by Jan van Riebeeck in 1660, to form the boundary of the Cape Colony. Sections of this hedge, called the van Riebeeck’s hedge, still exist today.

A row of fig trees were planted by Cecil Rhodes in 1898 and the arrangement of the flowers, shrubs and trees is such that there are blossoms to be seen throughout the year. In past days, the forests were harvested for timber and overgrown tracks where the timber was hauled out of the forest, can still be found today.

The best time to visit is during the spring months from August to September when the flowers are in full bloom, although there is always something beautiful to see, no matter when you go. This is a paradise of flowers, colours and magnificent fragrances. Being located just outside Cape Town, it is close to other attractions like Table Mountain and the V&A Waterfront.

Make sure to turn off and drop in. You won’t be disappointed and will easily loose yourself between the glorious plants for the whole day. Just relax and take in the beauty that surrounds you . . .

Article Source: About the Author: Lizel Salter is a cooking fanatic and author of the cookbook, Recipes from South Africa. Read more about information on South Africa and places to see by visiting:

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